What I’ve Learned in the Last 5 Years of Site Building, Blogging, and Online Business
I’d say that it was 2008 when I began to really sit down and realize that all those online projects I had been fiddling with could become some kind of real asset for me. I did a ton of work and play with the Web since the 90′s but it wasn’t until the later 2000′s that something just seem to have *clicked*.
I decided to try and begin earning through my sites.
I primarily use affiliate marketing for passive income on my sites because I’ve found a few publishers that offer valuable products within the niche topics I cover across a range of my websites and projects. I’ve been with Clickbank (the main marketplace I use for offers) and Amazon Associates for some years now with plenty of ups and downs.
The profits I’ve made aren’t like what you see boasted by many big-named marketers but I have made enough to pay for some of my most desired items, vacations, and to create a financial “cushion”.
It has taken me years and thousands of hours of work to see a respectable return on my investment when working with the platform. I’m sure I could have got to where I’m at sooner but, ultimately, it’s always a learning process.
What I’d like to do, today, is to avoid about my achievements on the platform but to give you some of the insights I’ve learned along the way. It’s my hopes that you can take some of this information and use it to your advantage when exploring affiliate marketing as a source of online income with your website/blog.
Three Unforgettable Things I’ve Learned in the Process
In many ways, I still dislike Clickbank.
It’s not that it can’t become a viable option for those using affiliate marketing for online earnings but because there is simply too much trash on the network. I can’t even begin to count the number of offers I’ve received, in my email, with another “push button” system or some lame product that promises me thousands of dollars with minutes of work.
We’re beyond this people. We can do better than this.
In my devotion to always strive to add value to my posts, I’ve singled out the three most important things I’ve learned over the last few years with Clickbank.
(I’ll most likely do one about Amazon Associates in the near future because that’s a whole beast of its own.)
1. Build an Authority Site from the Start
The majority of the earnings displayed on my Clickbank earnings have come from a blog I started years ago related to a personal hobby I love ‘til this day.
I believe hobby niches are one of the most powerful (and profitable) niche markets to chase because there will always be beginners and those that are advanced will be devoted enough to purchase products to increase their participation in the hobby.
At the time of creating my blog, I didn’t know it would become an authority in the niche. Quite literally, I was ready to quit after the first few months because I barely received traffic or participation. As one of those “final resorts”, I decided to write the best possible post I could to help beginners get started in the hobby. I then logged out and wouldn’t touch the blog until over a year later.
You may not know it but your most beloved interest may be your most profitable.
You see, you love your activities and interests so much that you may not see the opportunities to transition your passion into online revenue.
Some, like me, are so passionate about an interest that the thought of making money defeats the purpose of being a part of the hobby community.
The thing is that you can ethically make money from your website if you deliver true value.
Your time invested creating incredible content will pay off because you slowly build your authority within your niche. You’re so passionate about the topics you produce content for that it creates incredible impact for those that view your content. You’re delivering real value.
Offering a product that you personally used for your own participation in the niche makes a natural progression from a blogger that loves what they’re doing into one that creates sustainability in their work.
From the very beginning, aim to become the authority in your niche.
There may be thousands of other blogs out there within your market; they’re not your competition. Your duty, as a blogger, is to craft your own digital domain. Don’t worry about what others are doing, how they’re progressing and their overall exposure. Focus on your content and your community; that’s what matters most.
If you truly enjoy every minute of your work than it will be conveyed in what you offer to the community. People will take notice; they will be able to hear your voice. They will be able to trust you. They label you the authority and with it, you’ll begin to roll over the tipping point – the moment when your blog goes from ‘just another WordPress blog’ into ‘you have to go here, it’s the best’.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Try what YOU Want
There are no “rules” to blogging. Every tip that you’ve ever ready truly doesn’t apply to your blog because bloggers can only speak from their own experience (if they write from a real-world experience and don’t create shit content).
Rightly so, the above statement almost null and voids this entire post because, truthfully, my success is my own. I can do my best to convey the ideas and approach that I have done but it’s only you that will be the one to create your success.
With that being said, I want to stress how important it is to do the things that you want to do with your blog. You can learn countless “tips and tricks” on the web that can certainly help you understand elements of your blog but it’s the things you personally do that truly makes an impact with your earnings, authority and success through blogging.
It’s hard to pin-point a single specific action on my part that lead to this success with Clickbank but, in my mind, it comes down to two items:
- I thoroughly researched my true audience using online demographics tools
- I spent an entire month optimizing my email list to add value to the community
I don’t believe that the majority of bloggers understand who their community truly is. You can be quick to assume it’s those that leave comments but you forget that there are thousands of people that visit your blog and never interact. In fact, comments you receive may just be friendly reciprocation from your own social media participation – this doesn’t reveal the true avatar of your community; one that are passionate about what you have to offer and the same type that want to invest in what you have to offer.
Using an online demographics tool, I examined my blog and was stunned to see that the majority of my community was much younger than I had thought. Additionally, my readers did not have the financial security that would allow them to easily invest into the hobby I write about.
Against my own personal conflict, I began to change my offering on the blog (content and affiliate-wise). This single action immediately began to see a spike in sales through Amazon which, over time, lead into the advanced products I promote through Clickbank.
Your own blog may be missing the real audience. I would highly suggest spending a day or two only researching who your true avatar is; people that quietly take action. It may be difficult, mentally, but start the process of aligning yourself toward these people – not just to entertain other bloggers in your niche or to make the maximum amount of impact in social media communities.
Go for the people that are passionate about your content and character; not just those that you talk to on Twitter or Facebook.
Create content that you would want to read. Don’t be afraid to go off the rails.
You’ve heard time and time again to write only for your community but here’s what I believe people are missing: you’re part of the community as well.
Writing content that appeases your own desire will be perfectly aligned to other like-minded individuals that love your niche topic. You’re not trying to appeal to ‘yes men’, you’re writing content in the voice that people want to listen to.
3. Optimize the hell out of your work
I’m a firm believer of “figure out what works and do it over and over again”.
We easily get scatterbrained with all the offerings we find online. We relentlessly read blogs to learn something new. We dive into what’s working for other bloggers but quickly become frustrated because we don’t see the same success.
Here’s the thing: Other bloggers work relentlessly on doing the best they can with what they’ve got which may have taken years; your investment into the same approach, over the course of just a few days, will obviously fail to have the same effect.
Quite literally, I could share the exact emails I send to people on my list, products I promote, detailed information into why I included each segment and it still wouldn’t work for you because the approach that I’ve created, for myself, has been optimized over years of trial and error.
However, there are a few things to learn that you’ve heard time and time again but may have failed to retain because you’re always chasing the next big idea; here’s what worked for me:
I spent an entire month going back through my autoresponder emails. I deleted the 10 emails that I had created, originally, (that were somewhat successful) and wrote 50 highly valuable emails based around the content throughout the blog – I even reused entire posts as emails (because not everyone will dig through your previous posts – it’s a fact).
I piled a massive amount of content in each email, one-after-another. At roughly the 30th email, I finally began to lead into the main product I promote on the blog. The main product I promote is one of the best I’ve seen in the niche; it adds real value vs. the countless crap that I’ve seen on others (just saying).
I also made sure that I included follow up emails to remind people about the offer I had in the previous email – two to be exact – before moving back into pure content emails. The entire span of the emails take nearly 3 months before hitting a end point where I can no longer hold my readers hand because the must take action beyond the basics.
Besides all that – I spent a great deal of time working on my SEO, link building, and content strategy. I’m not the best at it but I made an effort to leave regular blog comments, do a bit of guest posting, try out paid advertising, social media campaigns, and more.
Quick inject: Glen, from Viperchill, definitely gave me the boost in this area after following his blog for quite some time. I did a lot of the strategies he shared in one of his bigger SEO posts. Now him and a friend is doing a thing called BacklinksXXX which goes deep into SEO and the whatnot; this is something I’m going to dig into for my future projects and some of the major revisions I’ll do on my sites. Yeah, it’s an affiliate link – if you buy I get a cut that’ll go toward more experiments (and so I can eat) – figure you should know.
I’m not a big shot when it comes to going all out with these items but I was willing to give them a try which, I believe, allowed me to gain a great deal of insight about managing a website than just slapping up some content, sending it out to Twitter/FB, and calling it a day.
The Three Points to Take Away
I know that I just went through a very lengthy process of explaining the various items and I didn’t expect you to dig through all of it so here are the three things, as a reminder, of what you can take away:
- Build an authority blog from the very beginning by blogging about something you’re extremely passionate about; you’ll guarantee that you become part of the community and the content you have to offer will be extremely valuable to your real community.
- Create content around what you want to read and don’t be afraid to try things, with your blog, that makes sense to you. Don’t subscribe to the idea that every “tips and tricks” post will apply to your blog; try something different – something that you would want to read.
- Go back to what has worked before and optimize the living hell out of it. Don’t be swayed by the countless opportunities that you find on the web; stay focused on mastering one segment at time. Figure out your strong and weak points; do what you’re best at over and over again.
Or, as some of you have heard me say: don’t write shit content. Plain and simple.
I hope, overall, that this post can become some form of inspiration for your own online projects, blog or business venture. I think it paints a realistic approach to what needs to be done in order to see even just a bit of success online.
Sure, you may not be raking in the ridiculous numbers you see touted by others but you’re creating your own process which can be applied in plenty of other opportunities during your investment into your online projects.
You’re going to bust your ass. You’re going to spectacularly fail in some areas of your work but also soar in others. You may not have believed it at first but you can turn your passion into a kick-ass online business – so stop wasting time and do it.